Tamahere pots turn up trumps


Searching for the perfect garden ornament was the start of something great for Tamahere potter Colin Bell.

With a background in masonry, Colin decided to have a go at making his own garden pots after a fruitless hunt around the local plant nursery for what he and wife Julia had in mind.

That was eight years ago and since then Tamahere Pots has developed into a small but rewarding business for Colin and his son Craig, in whose Newell Rd, Tamahere workshop the potters create their pieces.

(Tamahere Pots, Newell Rd, 07 856 8571)

Colin admits there were a few hitches initially, but is now very happy with how the pots are turning out. “Our processes are constantly improving,” he says.

Following an ethos demonstrated by an engineering colleague some years ago, Colin keeps his work simple.

He builds internal structures for his pots in a special process and applies three layers of plaster on top. These pots are no lightweights; most weigh in at around 150kg.

“They aren’t something you could just pick up under your arm,” he says.

Father and son make different shaped pots, including “vases” and “fatsos”. They will consider making any shape, but it must be suitable for other pots, due to the time and materials spent making moulds and stencils.

The rectangular shaped pots, among the smallest at around 100kg, are made in moulds from concrete, a medium Colin says is “for keeps”.

“While clay and other materials can be structurally weak and prone to breakages, concrete is naturally reinforced,” he says. “Concrete is a versatile material.”

After construction the pot comes off the spindle, a tag is put inside and the inside is sprayed with concrete to give it a unique texture.

Colin does paint some pots, as the surface is suitable for paint or oxide. However, since oxide is unstable and may fade after being exposed to weather, many people choose to keep the appealing natural colour of the concrete.

The smaller, rectangular pots are made for planting, but the larger ones are ornamental, for show in driveways or gardens.

Colin prefers the weathered look with the pots tucked into a garden as part of the landscape, rather than on display, shiny and new.

He says applying yoghurt to the outside of the pot encourages moss growth for a more natural look.

Colin and Craig have worked together on and off over the years, “from the age of six, he was out there laying bricks with me”, Colin says, and it is a relationship that works well.

“He’s good to work with,” Colin says. “While Craig is at work during the week, I can get stuck in and do the fiddly stuff.”

Colin and Craig have just finished eight pots for Te Awamutu’s main street, and four are going to Tauranga.

“We seem to have had an influx of orders,” Colin says.

These giants are certainly in demand, in the Waikato and beyond.

(Thanks to publisher Waikato Farmer, June 2010, not online)

2 thoughts on “Tamahere pots turn up trumps

  • December 27, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Greetings. After the Tamahere garden ramble I am keen to visit and view your pots. There are still some scattered in a garden or two around Tamahere used for the event.
    Do you have seconds at all, and I wondered what your prices are please?
    They also look great in Te Awamutu….threatened to be lost every weekend I see.

    • December 28, 2010 at 9:54 am

      Cherrie, Call Colin or Craig at Tamahere Pots on 07 856 8571.


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